What is the difference between H1 economics & H2 economics? Also, what are the pros & cons that come with taking each level respectively?
In summary, H2 Economics, compared to its H1 counterpart, has:
- More content (equating to roughly an additional 2-3 months of learning across 2 years); and
- An additional paper examinable (essay-writing “Paper 2”).
To understand why students must take at least one H1 subject that is offered from the “other stream” (i.e. Arts or Science), some context would be useful.
Many years ago, before this requirement came to force, students were required to take at least 3 subjects (no H1/H2 segmentation), and there was no need for having at least one subject from the “other stream”.
To foster better cross-disciplinary learning, the A level syllabus was changed to require at least one subject from the “other stream”. At the same time, in line with the assumption that students’ aptitude differs across both streams, the content and examination was “dumbed down” for the H1 subject of choice.
H1 Economics was designed therefore to demand less study-time from students, although of course it is subject to individual student’s aptitude. However. the major topics dropped in H1 (Market Structures, International Trade, Balance of Payments especially) can be pivotal to understanding real-world applications such as anti-trust sentiments against Google (or even Jack Ma’s empire), and US-China trade wars – to name a few.
Generally speaking, this means that you should:
- Choose H1 if Economics is something you wish to “get over and done with” (and having considered the other “Arts” subjects to be “less palatable”).
- Choose H2 if you wish to learn more. The additional topics covered are good knowledge and are incredibly useful in understanding real-world topics.
If it helps, consider my personal experience taking the equivalent of 4x H2 subjects in JC (I was from the pre-H1/H2 era). Having taken A level Physics, Chemistry, Math and Economics, I am surprised to uncover how much I unknowingly utilise my knowledge gained in all 4 subjects on day-to-day basis.
There are some who point out that “learning too much” is pointless (such as this one). That isn’t always true. While I moved on to graduate with a degree in Economics (which obviously taking Economics in JC helped to an extent), I am deeply involved in IT and Engineering too in my career.
I surprised myself by doing well in Engineering courses I had no formal background in, and I had my cumulative knowledge from my JC subjects and University rigour to thank for (Economics at University has a lot more Math than you think).
Clearly, one’s experience isn’t instructive for all others, nor is it always the case that today’s decision always leads to the best outcomes in tomorrow’s assessment. Consider also, peers of mine who “dropped” subjects in JC (i.e. took 3 subjects unlike myself) – they aren’t doing shabbily today either.
Part of it had to do with the lower amount of exertions they had to contend with in JC, and it was something that I was envious about too. But in the end, we stuck to our respective choices and made the most out of it.
In summary, make a choice and own it! Need more advice from me? Just leave comments below.
For the detailed A level Economics syllabus, refer to the SEAB site for respective requirements.